Licensing FAQs

In 2017, the Northern State University Foundation entered into an agreement with Learfield Licensing Partners, a trademark management company specializing in collegiate licensing and branding. NSU implemented the trademark licensing program in order to help protect and promote brand consistency. Here are some frequently asked questions:

  • What is a trademark?
    • A trademark, specifically in Northern’s case, can be a word (Northern), phrase (Northern State University), symbol (NSU logo), color (Northern maroon) or group of letters (NSU), used by an organization that identifies and distinguishes itself from others.
  • What are some examples of potential NSU trademarks?
    • Although not officially registered, the institutional logo (NSU) and three athletic marks, wolf head, the Northern ‘N’ and Waldo the Wolf (throwback logo). In addition, according to South Dakota Board of Regents policy, BOR institutions must submit their trademark requests under the Board of Regents.
  • What is Learfield?
    • Learfield Licensing Partners and the Northern State University Foundation entered into an agreement in 2017.  Learfield Licensing Partners (LLP) serves as the trademark licensing agent for Northern State University.  As the licensing agent, LLP administers the application and renewal process for licensed vendors, collects royalties on NSU’s behalf, assists in branding and marketing efforts, and provides legal assistance in infringement cases.  Learfield provides licensed vendors with an easy-to-use platform, Trademarx Online.  Licensed vendors can find all NSU’s logos and style guide on Trademarx and can also submit designs for approval.  Design approvals are taken care of by NSU’s Communications and Marketing Department.
  • Who must obtain a license through Learfield?
    • Any individual, organization or company wishing to use the name or identifying marks of Northern State University must obtain a license. This includes manufacturers or service providers who use NSU's name or logo on products (including premiums for promotions) or in advertising. 
  • How can I become a licensed vendor?
    • Additional information on how to become licensed, including an application, can be found on Learfield’s website.
  • Is there a fee to become licensed?
    • Yes. There is an application fee, plus an advance fee and a royalty rate based upon the total gross invoice amounts billed (net sales). The royalty rate is variable, depending on the item. More information can be found in the application.
  • What happens to the income Northern State University receives from licensing?
    • Proceeds generated by the trademark licensing program are returned to NSU students through academic or athletic scholarships and student programs administered by the NSU Foundation. 
  • What kinds of products can’t be licensed?
    • Weapons/firearms, tobacco products, sexually oriented products or designs, legally controlled substances, religious affiliated products or designs, and patches are not appropriate items for licensing. Other products will be considered; the university has the right to decline any item at any time.
  • Are student organizations or campus departments required to obtain permission to use the University names/marks/logos on items used as giveaways, fundraisers or for internal use?
    • Yes, in order for the university to maintain and protect its value, you must obtain permission from the Communications and Marketing team (communications@northern.edu). Purchasing through a licensed vendor is required.
    • Best practices for using Northern trademarks include:
      • The logos should not be altered in any fashion, and
      • The logos should have the proper trademark symbols (the NSU logo and the word "NSU" should be accompanied by a ‘TM’ symbol), and
      • The logos should not be used in association with a private business or used in a manner which might associate (or imply endorsements) by the university with an outside business or product, unless a formal sponsorship or partnership agreement is in place.
  • What if I wish to use the University’s trademarks on a publication or brochure?
    • Please consult Communications and Marketing before using any university trademarks on internal publications, brochures, advertising or miscellaneous print material.

Questions? Contact communications@northern.edu for more information.